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Summary Details


Query:   Origins of Arigato
Author:  Jonathan Lewis
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Language Documentation
Lexicography

Summary:   For Query: Linguist 12.1831

The votes are in on the origins of arigato. Here we go, in reverse order:

''Arigato'' derives from the Portuguese ''obrigado''....0

''Aaargghhhhh! No, no, no, no, no! How many times a year can this question keep coming up without it becoming universal knowledge etc. etc''....1

Don't know, but wish you would spell ''obrigado'' correctly....2

''Arigato'' has nothing whatsoever to do with Portuguese. It is based on two Chinese characters, one meaning ''difficult'' and the other ''to be''. In other words, I'm so indebted to you, I'm having a hard time even existing over here.....12

Perhaps I should explain my reason for asking what is evidently an, um, RTFM question. Last week I was reading an edited volume called ''Language Change in East Asia'' (Curzon, 2001). Said book contains a chapter entitled ''Some Returned Loans: Japanese Loanwords in Taiwan Mandarin'', whose author shall remain nameless in light of the above responses. Anyway, on page 167 I found the following lines:

''Other widely known Japanese expressions without a set written form in Chinese include: arigato gozaimasu 'thank you very much' (...; few Chinese know that this expression is often written with the kanji [..], nor that the Japanese is itself a foreign loan, coming from the Portuguese word for 'thank you', obrigado)''

Having enough knowledge of Japanese to teach and publish in the language, I found the above rather surprising, but not being a specialist in linguistics I thought I'd ask your collective opinion. For which, rendered so generously, many thanks.

Jonathan Lewis

Tokyo Denki University

LL Issue: 12.1871
Date Posted: 22-Jul-2001
Original Query: Read original query


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